A commitment to distance ed is not an appropriate investment in the basics of education, it’s an investment in distance.

Let’s transform in a way to retain our core mission & our source of pride & reputation — quality education with access to many.

My comments today @ the Board — followed shortly by Paul Quinn’s (in another post).

I was hoping Dr. Quinn would be here to give the local perspective, since you’ve taken the time to visit a campus to see what’s happening, but he has class now, so you’ll have to listen to me.

I know the locals are concerned with a number of issues.  One of those is class size.  Here at Kutztown, it has grown, according to the latest Joint Legislative commission report, from 32 to 36 in lower level undergraduate classes in the last 6 years.  That’s almost an extra student in EVERY lower level class per year.

This is what “transforming education” looks like here “on the ground.”

The new strategic plan that is in your packet for approval uses the wording “transforming” as the driving verb for all four of its major points.  And it’s a good word because who in education can argue that transformation is not a good thing?

But when you look at any of the four points in the plan, you need to ask yourself: what is the transformation turning us into?  Here at KU, the evidence on the ground is that it’s turning the university into something else – something akin to a job-training facility or a for-profit college. You read point one (this is page 74) – Students and the Learning Environment – and you wonder how we will “change the way students learn, faculty teach, and courses are delivered.”  Our student population has grown for 14 consecutive years – they seem to be happy with our learning environment.  The essentials of faculty teaching haven’t changed since Plato, though the tools have changed considerably.  And “courses delivered” looks like something-speak for more distance ed, which undermines our access mission as much of the inner city and far rural communities struggle to afford the luxury of 64 bit computers and broadband service.  A commitment to distance ed is not an appropriate investment in the basics of education, it’s an investment in distance.

Instead of changing our space, we need to invest in it.  We need more classrooms & the faculty to staff them so our students have a productive learning space, not jammed in with more students than seats.  We need to do so in a fiscally responsible way, but we can’t keep thinking we are providing the same service and the same education by transforming bricks and mortar into computers and Ethernet cables.

So, let’s transform.  But let’s transform in a way to retain our core mission & our source of pride & reputation — quality education with access to many.  And let’s not be afraid to create a financial model that invests in that as our transformation.

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